Glazes & Custom Design

One of the wonderful things about custom made ceramic tiles is that you can choose from an almost unlimited selection of glaze colors. There are literally hundreds of glazes available from over a dozen major glaze manufacturers. To make the process simpler, Far Ridge Ceramics has selected a Studio Palette of glazes which we find work well on our tile designs. We suggest that you read the descriptions in our architectural tile pages for information on what types of glazes work best on the designs that appeal to you. You may want to take note of the glaze colors used on some of our concept boards to get an idea of how certain glazes work together.

Glaze colors may be affected by many factors: the method and thickness of application, firing temperatures, type of clay in the tile, interactions between glazes, variations in glaze formulations, and the sources of raw materials used to make the glazes. Some glazes are formulated to provide fairly consistent, even color. Many others are intentionally formulated to give variations in color and texture. The following list of definitions and descriptions is provided to help you make an informed decision on the best glazes to choose for your project.

Matte Glaze

A glaze that fires to a non-glossy finish. Glaze results may range from a smooth, satin sheen to a decidedly dull, textured finish. These glazes tend to have an earthier, naturalistic appearance and often come in colors that reflect this color palette. Most Matte glazes are fairly opaque, but there are some that allow the clay to show through and these are particulary useful on tile with relief decoration or texture. The most textured of these glazes may not be suitable for installation behind sinks or ranges where food/grease splattering may occur.

Gloss Glaze

Glazes that fire to a medium to high-gloss, glassy finish. These glazes may come in several forms and ensure an easy to clean surface for installations where this is an issue.

Opaque/Semi-opaque

These glazes may be applied in several coats to completely hide the clay body. A thinner application of some glazes may produce a semi-opaque result which serves to highlight the design of tiles with texture, decorative patterns or relief.

Transluscent

A glaze with fairly intense color that still allows you to see through to the clay body and which accentuates the texture or design patterns of the tile. Especially useful on relief tiles where the color “pools” in certain areas and leaves highlights elsewhere.

Transparent

Glazes where you can easily see through to the clay body of the tile, but with slight to moderate color. These glazes allow handpainted details on the tile to show through quite clearly. They also work well to highlight texture and designs in decorated and relief tiles. Transparent glazes can provide color that has more depth and movement than a similarly colored opaque glaze.

Metallic

This family of glazes is highly variable due to the metallic content of the glazes and their sensitivity to firing temperatures and conditions. They tend to be glossy to semi-gloss and may have something of a multi-color sheen (think oil on water). They are usually at least twice as expensive as standard glaze formulations and will therefore increase the cost of the finished tiles. That said, they make a for a very striking installation especially when used on relief tiles as an accent or border.

Color-Breaking

There are many glazes that are formulated to show more than one color when fired. The colors may be similar (two shades of blue) or disparate (white and terracotta). These glazes are highly variable and produce very interesting shading, especially on textured and relief tiles. Because results are somewhat unpredictable, we suggest you order a sample flat or relief tile in these glaze choices so you will have a better idea of how your project will look. Even then, the appearance of the glaze will not be consistent from tile to tile, but will fall within a range of colors.

Crystal/Speckled

Some glazes contain small particals of glass frit or minerals which create texture and interest in the fired glaze. The effect can be as subtle as a sprinkle of sand or pepper or as bold as a miniature fireworks display. Many of the more dramatic glazes aren’t suitable for use on a large expanse of tiles, but they may be useful in small areas or on border and accent tiles.

Crackle

This family of glazes develops very fine cracks as it cools resulting in an naturally aged appearance. This effect is particularly appropriate in renovations of older houses or when attempting to match or complement an existing tile during a restoration or expansion. Crackle glazes are not recommended for installation in areas where they will be in frequent contact with water, as the glaze is not completely resistant to moisture absorption.

Glaze Samples & Additional Information

In viewing our Studio Palette of glazes online, please be aware that photographic representations of glaze colors are seldom accurate and the variability of computer monitors compounds this problem. For these reasons we strongly recommend that before you place your order, you request glaze color samples. Each of our glaze sample tiles has a smooth side and a patterned side so you may see how a glaze performs on each surface. Again, due to the variability inherent in handmade tile production as well as in glaze formulations, your tile order may vary somewhat in color from the glaze sample tile we send. Once you’ve selected your glaze color, please order all the tiles you will need for your installation at one time – we cannot guarantee that tiles glazed with another batch of glaze will match your original order exactly.

Sample Ordering Information

To order samples, please contact us via the Contact Form, e-mail (libet@farridgeceramics.com) or call us at (540)937-5605.  Tell us which glaze sample you wish us to send and provide us with your shipping address.  The cost is $3.00 per glaze sample plus $2.00 S&H for the first tile and $.50 for each additional tile.  You may mail us a check in payment (Far Ridge Ceramics, P.O.Box 477, Washington, VA  22747) or you may also call us with your glaze sample order and credit card information for faster service.  We can also set up a custom glaze sample order at our online store at Etsy.com where you can pay by credit card, e-check or through your PayPal account.